Lepidoptera Larvae (Also known as Caterpillars)
What is a caterpillar?• The larval stage of the order of moths and butterflies called Lepidoptera.• Caterpillars pupate into moths and butterflies.• They are mainly herbivores. Moths feed on trees and woody plants; Butterflies feed on herbaceous plants.• There are more than 13,000 species within North America
Scientific Classification• Kingdom: Animallia• Phylum: Arthropoda• Class: Insecta• Order: Lepidoptera• Family: More than 120 different• Genera: More than 15000 different• Species: Over 13000 in NA, estimated 170000 worldwide
Parts of A Caterpillar•The body of the caterpillar is divided into 3 parts, the head, thorax, andabdomen.•The ocelli are simple eyes that detect light.•Mandibles•Setae are sensory hairs all over a caterpillars body, these hairs givecaterpillars a sense of touch•Spiracles are holes that caterpillars breathe through
Legs of a Caterpillar• Caterpillars have 3 types of legs, thoracic legs, abdominal prolegs and anal prolegs.• Thoracic legs are three pairs of jointed legs with hooks that help the caterpillar hold onto its food.• Abdominal prolegs are stumpy legs with crochets (small grasping hooks) that allow the caterpillar to climb and go up vertical surfaces. Caterpillars usually have four pairs of abdominal prolegs .• Anal prolegs are the last pair of legs on the abdomen that are located at the very end of a caterpillars abdomen.
Stages of LifeA caterpillar goes through four different stages of life. Each stage has a different goal. In the first stage of life, caterpillars are very small, round, oval or cylindrical eggs. The female moth or butterfly attaches the egg to leaves or other objects. These eggs are usually on or near caterpillar food. In the second stage, the egg hatches and a caterpillar is born. This is a short stage that involves feeding and growth. The caterpillar starts his work by eating the leaf they were born on, then moves onto other leaves and plants. In the third stage, the caterpillar form themselves into a pupa, which is also known as chrysalis. This stage begins when the caterpillar has reached its full growth. Inside of the chrysalis, caterpillars go through a metamorphic transformation and the parts that make up a moth or butterfly emerge. Tissues, limbs and organs of the caterpillar are changed by the time the pupa is finished. In the fourth stage, an adult butterfly or moth emerges from the chrysalis. The main goal of this stage is to reproduce and includes courtship, mating, and egg-laying.
AppearanceCaterpillars are classified in families according to their appearance.
Caterpillars that turn into butterflies tendto be brighter, prettier and rather smoothlooking.Swallowtails (papilionidae) and the brushfoots(nymphalidae) are two common butterfly families.- they include monarch and the American lady.
Moths seem to be dull in color and have hairor “spikes”.Cutworms(noctuidae) and prominents(notodontidae) are common moth families.
Silk worms (Tortricidae) are the family ofmoths that you could find in drycereal, rice, and grains.
Caterpillars appearance also ties into their defense mechanisms
Spicebrush swallowtail- disguise Some also have eyespots thatthemselves as bird droppings. look kind of snake like.
Geometrid (Kent’s Geometer) or inch wormsdo not have legs in between allowing themto look like twigs.
Tussock Caterpillers (lymantridae) aremainly covered with lots of hair and usuallybright colors and spots that deceives itspredators.
Economic Effects• Cause much damage, mainly by eating leaves. – Other species eat food crops. –target of pest control • Many species have become resistant• Some caterpillars are used in industry.industry.
Current Research• Neurology and Metamorphosis• Ecological effects on bird and deer population• Parasitiodism• Toxicology and Chemical Defense• Invasive species population effects and projections• Agricultural effects